PATIENTS at The Richardson Hospital, in Barnard Castle, have been given a boost to help them get back to fitness.

That's after the Friends of Richardson Hospital invested £385 in a new exercise bike to assess patients' levels of fitness and other equipment including an anatomical life-sized pelvis to help explain the functions of the spine.

The team have also created a small therapy area on Starling Ward so patients can be guided through exercises without having to go downstairs or for the physiotherapist to carry up equipment for them to use. Some additional weights and medicine balls as well as a DAB radio have also been bought from proceeds from the Christmas hamper raffle which raised £1,000.

In addition, a new treadmill will be arriving to replace an existing one which was transferred from the old hospital in John Street in 2007.

Friends' publicity officer Iris Hillery said: “The physiotherapy department is one of the best used out-patient services in the hospital and also provides essential therapy to get patients on Starling Ward home quickly. It is also one of the services used by all ages. We were pleased to be able to help.”